New Berlin


New Berlin State of the Union LP

Following up their 2019 album Magnet, NEW BERLIN’s third full-length continues their exploration of post-indie garage pop. The album’s sonic terrain opens with a nod to raw minimalism, echoing the dissonant spirit of WIRE, then moves quickly into flirtation with the sunnier side of jangle-pop shoegaze. There’s a tip of the hat to honky-tonk country on the third and fourth tracks, before settling into a cleaned up LOU REED-esque groove that prevails for the remaining songs. The trajectory is a bit disorienting, though not incoherent or whiplash-inducing. While not revolutionary, State of the Union makes for great background music with pleasing aesthetics and digestible harmonies. If you want to be challenged by an album, this will not fit the bill, but for a laid-back palette cleanser, it just might.

New Berlin Magnet LP

The new offering from Texas’ NEW BERLIN has this intense, black-and-white collage cover art that does not quite fit the music it contains. I’m not normally a stickler for consistency, but I don’t find these tunes fit as seamlessly as the songs on the Basic Function LP that I thought worked well in a stripped-down, BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS kind of way. The Magnet LP tries out different sonic approaches from song to song and they don’t always jive together so well. You get fuzzed-out power chords but then jangly guitars and power pop licks, distorted vocals then earnest clear vocals, natural sounding drums then antiseptic fake drums—you get the idea. You don’t know which NEW BERLIN is going to show from track to track. You can’t deny the quality of some of these hooks and witty lyrical turns, but it left me with an uneven and unfinished feeling. That said, I really dug the DYLAN cover.